Bishop Vincent’s Homily: ‘The Holy Spirit moves us as we nurture a new way of being Church’, Pentecost 2024

By Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, 19 May 2024
Members of Diocese of Parramatta's first-ever Synod pose for a photograph at Commbank Stadium, October 2023. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta

Homily for Pentecost 2024, Year B

Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Gal 5:16-25; John 20:19-23

19 May 2024


 The Holy Spirit moves us as we nurture a new way of being Church.

Dear brothers and sisters,

It has been a full year since we launched the Diocesan Synod. Looking back, I can truly say that the Holy Spirit has guided us through the synodal process. We have responded boldly and trustingly to the call of Pope Francis in reimagining the Church in Parramatta for greater communion, participation and mission in the 21st century. We have proved that it is possible to find common ground and strategic goals despite our divergent views and even conflicting hopes. Deep listening to one another and the Holy Spirit leads us to become a community of mutual discernment.

The Church, as the whole People of God, should walk together, sharing the burdens of humanity, listening to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth, bringing about the Kingdom vision of Jesus. This is the path of synodality anchored in the Trinity and yet open to the web of integral relationships with all. We learn to be partners and catalysts for the community of life of which we are a part, rather than closing ourselves in individualism and self-reference. This is, as Pope Francis insists, what God expects of us in the third millennium. By doing so, we live out the meaning of catholicity which is wholistic and all-embracing, not tribal and sectarian.

I am grateful to you all for your prayers, participation and openness to the journey. As we move towards the development of the pastoral plan for the diocese and local communities, it is my hope that we can institutionalise best practice in communal discernment, decision making and governance. Together, we can plough the fields for the seeds of the synodal Church to grow and bear fruit for generations to come.

We are inspired by the example of the early Church which was transformed by the Holy Spirit into a dynamic, unified and mission-driven community. The Acts of the Apostles describes this transformation for us in dramatic terms. A powerful wind filled the house where they gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on the head of each of them. One is reminded of the way Torah, the old law, was given in the midst of thunder, lightning and flames of fire. In other words, just as God had done in the past, life-giving spirit enabled the disciples to move beyond old boundaries to new horizons of universal fraternity.

At Pentecost, all barriers of language, race and culture collapse. The Galileans, as the disciples were known, spoke in a way that the many cultures and nationalities could understand. They were able to unify and heal the chaos at the Tower of Babel where people were divided on account of their differences.

The Church as a community of disciples is the embodiment of unity in diversity. We are given the task of bridging the gaps and bringing down the barriers that separate people. We are called to embody the Spirit who transcends all boundaries and divisions, be they of race, culture, social status, gender, ability or disability.  Just as the predominantly Jewish Christian movement was forced to examine its assumptions, beliefs and practices, today we too must seek fresh ways of transcending divisions and embodying God’s all-embracing love.

It is our Pentecostal mandate to be the catalyst for the common good and the strengthening of the sacred bonds that bind us all together. This means the Church must emulate Jesus’ unwavering solidarity with the disadvantaged. This means the Church cannot remain indifferent to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Nor can we cross over to the other side, when victims of injustice lie on the road. It is in everyone’s interest to challenge and address the root cause of all that afflicts the human family. We cannot be comfortable with the status quo when it is linked to the oppression of the past. It is the work of the Gospel community to create policies and practices, institutions and a culture in which the deprived can live and stand on their feet.

Similarly, we have a duty to be the messengers of peace, reconciliation and healing to all creation. The early Church was a pioneer leading humanity to new dawn of greater justice, equality and fraternity. Today, we Christians cannot forfeit this mandate if we fail to embody those Gospel values and advocate for those deprived of them. We are called to partner with God in bringing the victory of the cosmic Christ fulfilment. This is what making a new heaven and a new earth means.


Dear brothers and sisters,

At Pentecost, the motley crew was transformed, and the Church was born. The Holy Spirit emboldened and launched them forward as a leavening force in the world. As we gather around the Eucharistic table, we are also bolstered by the fresh energy that the Holy Spirit. We model ourselves on the early Church in which all members contributed to the building up of the Body of Christ and the spreading of the Good News. May the Holy Spirit who is the chief protagonist of the synodal Church guide us as we endeavour to walk together, supporting, accompanying and building up one another. May his presence and power galvanise us as we nurture a new way of being Church that promotes greater communion, participation and mission in the world.

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